July 10, 2013

Transgender vs. Crossdresser

During my therapy session today, Nancy (my excellent gender therapist) asked me an important question:

“Where do you think the boundary is between being transgender and being a crossdresser?”

It’s a fair question, and honestly it put into concrete words some funky doubts I’d been having in my own mind over the past week. Doubts about what I’m doing, how successful I can be if I transition, if I could ever even make it all the way to the finish line. To wit:

Is the way I live my life right now the way a transgender woman lives her life? Or the way a crossdressing man lives his?

himvherFive days a week I am Him all day, all evening, from the time I wake up until the time I get back home at 10 or 11PM. And on weekends I am Ali only when I have the time, which is usually for at least part of Saturday and Sunday … but not always. If I were to put a number to it, I probably spend no more than fifteen hours of waking time each week as Ali, twenty if my Sunday is completely free.Β  The other 100 or so waking hours I’m Him. Him is natural; Him is easy; Him is who pays the bills, who parents the kids, who goes to the gym and teaches the classes.

I can’t just roll out of bed and be Ali. She is a production. Bringing out Ali takes time, patience, trial and error; I try on clothes, then change them, then put on make up, then change clothes again, then don my wig, then fuss with it, then scrutinize myself in the mirror, then sometimes start all over again. I have to think about Ali; I have to make a conscious effort.

She is also an event. Becoming Ali is something I must carve out time for and remove myself from the rest of my life to become. I cannot be her if I want to be with my kids, or if I want to go to the gym, or if I want to Facetime with my parents. In order to become Ali I need toΒ make plans.

She is, in many ways, an indulgence. It’s far too often that I feel some guilt over the time and money I spend on her. If I’m being Ali, am I giving away time I could spend with my family? By being Ali, am I wasting time that could be spent parenting my children, connecting with friends, or tending to a myriad of life responsibilities? Am I wasting money that could be spent on family, or car repairs, or upgrading my aging laptop?

The answer I gave Nancy was this: “I think the line between crossdressing and transgender is when it stops being an event and just starts being normal.” And if I’m being honest with myself, I’m just not there yet. And cue the depressed sigh …


  • Sigh! I hate it when reality intrudes on Rhonda. Your post today did just that and, I hate to say it, I think you’re spot on with your observation. Your description of Ali and how much time she gets, and squares well with my feelings as Rhonda. Sigh!

    I need a glass of wine and my forms.


  • I wonder how much more time you’d have if your life was arranged differently. Because so many people are frustrated from being what they really are by trivialities. Are you going to a therapist to be cleared for surgery or to help with transitioning in general?

    • My job is literally the center of my life in terms of time, energy, and resources. And teaching, while known as a very liberal profession, isn’t one that’s good for transitioning. If I could arrange things differently, I would; but then I’d probably just shift those hours over to parenting, another Ali free zone.

      Right now, I haven’t even been cleared for hormones, let alone surgery. I’m just getting therapy now so I’m asked the kind of hard questions like the one she asked today.

  • This is very thought provoking… indeed, I have been thinking about it since I first read it. I have some thought to share, but it too long for a simple comment so I am going to post my response on my blog a little later today. I can leave another reply with a link if you like.

  • Hi Ali, you right. But take heart in the fact that one day Ali will be you, you will be Ali. She will not be an event you need to plan, she will not take time or money from other things, nor will she be second guessed by you or anyone else for any reason. Alunwill be how you spend your days and nights and your depression will lift. You will see the world a new. The hard part is that it takes yime. But time sewn carefully towards a end goal. πŸ™‚

  • My husband cross Dresses. As open minded as I am I must admit I do have a problem with this. It started in his childhood…as a result of abuse and has continued into adulthood. He says it’s only when he is on drugs however it has carried over to his sober life….so now what. I know it’s not personal and about me but it makes me angry that he wears my clothes. I wonder when we are intimate and he sees me in panties that he has worn …is he thinking about when he wears them or if he’s thinking of me. I am really confused about all of this and need help and perspectives. The whole thing makes me feel insecure as his wife and as a woman. Please help.

    • “B”

      You have a valid point and a right to be upset. I am a 64 year old crossdresser who has been buying my own clothes and out dressed since age 20. I shop, eat in restaurants etc. met my wife at age 30 we got married and I did not tell her about my other side until 8 years ago. It has been a rocky road but things and boundaries have been worked out. I have my own wardrobe, she has hers. She asks if she can borrow something from my side of the closet. I have never worn anything of hers and have no intention to do so. I have enough to suite any occasion. As far as daily wear in male mode I don’t own any male clothes. I wear androgenous blouses, shirts, womens jeans, dress slacks, and shoes having 2 to 3 inch heels. I just wear longer pant legs to fit the heel height. I am underdressed all the time. I don’t care if bra straps show if it bothers someone it is their problem. My hair has all been lasered away and ears pierced. I wear earrings daily from studs to dangly. I have been to many councillors since age 16 and it was only 2 years ago that I found a good one who finally got me to accept me for who I am.
      You need to sit down with your husband, lay out boundary’s how often he can dress, confirm if you are or are not OK with the dressing and whether you want to be part or not part of it. For sure he needs to stop wearing your clothes and buy his own.
      My wife does not like my dressing, does not want any part of it, wishes it would go away, but realizes it is part of me and hardwired into the brain. Dressing daily helps control the urge to dress all the time. It never goes away. Dressing does calm my anxiety and helps make me a better husband and male to be around. My wife realizes this.
      I have been to a gender research hospital, had lots of testing, exray, catscans and mearments done as well as blood work and chromozones anaylised plus and seeing their councillors and they have determined my brain is more feminine than male, and conclude their was a dissruption in testorone wash in week 8 to13 to fully change my brain to male to match the sex. Had I been younger I would transition but my wife who I love dearly could not live in a translesbian relationship.
      I am out to my support group-transfamily, my children, paster, all my best long term friends, my 3 sisters, and several people in the church. It has not been a problem. They accept me as is, whatever I am wearing.

    • Hello – I haven’t visited this site for some time and just saw your post. My boyfriend crossdresses and I found out accidentally of course. I loved him and thought I could accept it, but there are so many aspects that make me feel there is more than simple crossdressing. I also was/am confused and feel devalued as a woman and wonder if he thinks he looks better in something than I do. I have decided I am not able to ‘hide’ from my situation anymore and am choosing to end the relationship. I just wanted to say, you have every right to feel confused, angry, sad, frustrated, etc., just like he has the right to feel what he feels and dress if he chooses. For me, guilt of accepting that I cannot live like this has been the hardest part. I feel like I’m letting him down, but pretending I’m okay when I’m not, is letting us both down. You both deserve to be happy, so if you want to stay with you, you should be open with him about how you feel and seek professional help either way. Please feel free to contact me if you need support or have a better perspective than I do at this point.

      • I too recently discovered my boyfriend had women’s clothes in his closet, with shoes, wigs….
        I confronted him, he said it started young, but he has only in the last few years started acting on the desire…
        He said I was more important and would give it up..
        Clothes and all were gone, but it made me so suspicious I was snooping his phone and Internet searche’s and discovered he had a tumblr account with hundreds of sexual graphic pics and videos of transgender mtf…
        Using his female “code name” I continued to search the Internet… I haven’t confronted him on what I found and am thinking I really don’t want him to know everything I saw, I’m some what fearful of him thinking I will expose him to our friends, community… His outside self is all male, except he shaves arms, legs, everything, he’s very tall built, carries a gun and his profession is a cop… I’m a little scared how to get out of this relationship, I know I’ll hurt him, I believe he does care about me, he says he loves me. I know he’s had failed relationships in past. I hate to hurt him, but I don’t want to be a part of a fake relationship… Help!

  • I read your post with interest in the hope of helping me learn if I am at that point in my life. I am no youngster and have dressed since a very early age, but I believe that I have eventually accepted who I am after too many years. 2 marriages and a long relationships plus 2 grown up children later in life, Been living in France the last 12 years and living on my own for just over 4 years now. Most of my days now I am Sophie. I have been increasing my outings, but so far just shopping trips with pans to expand that during the coming months. I intend to rid myself of my beard this year but still find the issues of letting my daughter and the world into Sophie’s life quite a scary thing. I could write much more but sure this is enough for now
    Good to find this page tonight xxx

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